The Tribes of Arabia
Isaiah 21:13-16
The burden on Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall you lodge, O you traveling companies of Dedanim.…

I. THE FATE OF THE DEDANITES. Their caravans must hide in the thorn-bushes away from the beaten track. These Dedanites belong to Edom (Jeremiah 49:8; Ezekiel 25:13). They were merchants, and among others traded with wealthy Tyre (Ezekiel 27:15). And probably the meaning is that when on their way from Tyre they would be compelled to camp in the desert, because of the wide spreading war from north to south.

II. THE SYMPATHY OF THE PROPHET. He calls the people of Tema to supply the thirsty and hungry fugitives with water and with bread. Tema lay on the route between Palmyra and Petra. The tribe was among the descendants of Ishmael. In these sad scenes the light of human kindness in the heart of the prophet, reflected in the picture of Temanite hospitality, shines forth.

"These are the precious balsam-drops
That woeful wars distil."
Hospitality is still found in generous flow among the Arabs of these regions, and reminds the wayfarer how near God is to man in the most desolate places. Wherever there is a loving human heart, there indeed is a fount and an oasis in life's desert. And this scene reminds us how good comes out of evil, even the bitterest; the sight of the flying warriors, showing the bent bow and the wave of war, touches the spring of sympathy and mercy in yonder wild hearts.

III. THE PROPHECY OF DOOM. In a year, "as the years of a hireling," i.e. swiftly, certainly, without delay, and without time of grace, Kedar's glory shall be at an end, the powerful tribes of nomad archers will be reduced to a remnant. Those tents, "black but comely," of which the bard of the Canticles sang (Song of Solomon 1:5), those splendid flocks, and the famed "rams of Nebaioth," shall disappear, or melt down to a fraction of the former numbers. So again the night sets on Edom, after a brief dawn.


1. These events were to happen by Divine appointment.

2. The God of Israel is the true God.

Let us take the saying to heart, amidst all that is most saddening in the fates of nations and institutions, "God hath done it, God hath said it." The true God who revealed himself to the fathers, and manifested himself to men in Christ, is the Being whose will is made known in the course of history. And amidst his heaviest punishments we have this consolation, that he chastises gently, and does not "give men over to death" (Psalm 118:18). ? J

Parallel Verses
KJV: The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies of Dedanim.

WEB: The burden on Arabia. In the forest in Arabia you will lodge, you caravans of Dedanites.

The Bedawin
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